— More powerful e-bikes will require a licence, registration, tax, insurance, and helmets.
— E-scooters will not be legal on Irish roads until later this year.
Owners of electric bikes with motors that do not cut helping off by 25km/h or which have a maximum continuous rated power greater than 250W will have to register the bikes as e-moped in Q1 2024, according to the Department of Transport.
Pedal-assisted electric bikes (aka pedelecs) with a maximum continuous output of 250W and which cut off at 25km/h will still be viewed as bicycles. Treating these e-bikes as bicycles is an EU requirement.
The definitions of the max speed and power of the motor of pedelecs were previously outlined in the Finance Bill for the Cycle to Work Scheme and in technical type approval legislation, but this is the first time it has been clarified in Irish road traffic law.
It can be hard to visually distinguish between speed-pedelecs which will be viewed as e-mopeds, and normal pedelecs which are viewed as bicycles.
The Department outlined the changes as part of the long-awaited Road Traffic and Roads Act 2023 which has been just signed into law, but provisions on e-scooters and e-mopeds are to be finalised separately via commencement orders.
Most of the focus of the legislation has been on e-scooters, but the law also clarifies the legal requirements for electric bicycles.
The faster e-bikes — called speed-pedelecs — where the motor keeps helping above 25km/h will not be viewed as bicycles. The same will be the case for any bike that can be used without the rider pedalling, ie using a throttle or other means, or which has a maximum continuous rated power greater than 250W.
In a statement, the Department said: “The Act will also put e-bikes on a legal footing. E-bikes with a maximum power output of 250W and a motor cut-off speed of 25km/hr will be treated as bicycles under Irish law. E-bikes that can go faster than 25km/hr or have a power output greater than 250W, and those that can operate without pedalling will now be classified as an e-moped.”
“Under the new categorisation, e-mopeds will be seen as motorised vehicles which will require a licence, registration, tax and insurance to be used on Irish roads,” the Department said.
It added: “The new rules for e-mopeds will come into effect once the administrative arrangements for registration, driver testing, driver licensing and taxation are in place, which is expected to be in Q1 2024. Owners of e-mopeds will not need to make any changes yet and can continue to legally use their e-moped like a pedal cycle or e-bike until then.”
You're read this much of the article... if you value our journalism, please subscribe today.
E-scooters are not legal yet
A combination of the Road Traffic and Roads Act 2023 and other legal measures will legislate for e-scooters to be legal for use on Irish roads later this year. E-scooters which match the requirements will mostly be considered bicycles.
The Department of Transport said: “The Road Traffic and Roads Act 2023 creates a new vehicle category, powered personal transporters, including e-scooters and future micro-mobility devices as needed. PPTs do not require registration, motor tax, insurance or a driving licence to use on Irish roads.”
The limitations on PPTs will be a maximum continuous rated power output of up to 500W, a maximum net weight of 25 kg (battery included), and a maximum design speed of up to 25 km/h. Other requirements will also be specified including such as having front and rear lights and a minimum wheel size, and not to include a seat, and not to be used to carry goods.
The Department added: “While the 2023 Act specifies these values for all PPTs, the Act allows the Minister to vary them in regulations for particular PPT types. Any type of PPT will not be legal to use until specific regulations are in place. The Department of Transport is preparing regulations for e-scooters. There are no plans to regulate for any other PPT and they will remain illegal to use on public roads.”
The e-scooter regulations will have to go through a 12-week ‘TRIS’ notice process to comply with European Commission Single Market rules.
Clarification: The text of this article originally referred to e-bikes with a maximum output of 250W, for clarity this has been changed to “a maximum continuous rated power greater than 250W”, which is somewhat different. The quotes from the Department of Transport on this remain unchanged, but what is now contained outside the quotes better reflects what is contained in the legislation. For simplification and brevity, the 250W mention in the headline was removed.